The No. 15 Buckeyes are ranked for the first time since 2007 and enjoying their best start since the 2002-03 season. And this weekend at Bowling Green, Ohio State added its first road sweep in…
"God knows how long," sophomore Kyle Reed said.
Forgive Reed for his faulty memory, but he had never been a part of one. Ohio State's 4-3 overtime win against the Falcons on Saturday night – during which Reed played the hero with the game-winning goal – gave the Buckeyes their first sweep away from Columbus since at Bowling Green in November 2006.
With the win, the Buckeyes (15-6-1, 8-5-1-1 CCHA) extended their nation's best winning streak to 10 games, the program's longest since 1983, and solidified their hold on fifth place in the league just three points behind fourth-place Alaska and Nebraska-Omaha. The Buckeyes have games in hand on each.
Saturday's game was a physical, spirited contest borne out on a stat sheet that showed 23 total penalties and four separate incidents of coincidental calls. And unlike Friday night's 8-5 win, the Buckeyes needed all the gumption they could muster after the Falcons (7-12-3, 4-9-1-0) forced overtime by tying the game with just over a minute to go.
"We knew it was going to be a different game than last night," Ohio State head coach John Markell said. "I thought Bowling Green played a great game."
So did Falcons head coach Scott Paluch, who seemed visibly disappointed by the outcome.
"It's a real difficult loss," he said. "Our guys played extremely hard all the way right to the end there. We tied it up. Ohio State, they had good chances in overtime and won the game."
The Buckeyes controlled the overtime, outshooting Bowling Green 5-1 and having a number of chances before Reed finally came through for his second goal of the year and his first since the second game of the year Oct. 13.
"I tell you, chances were coming," he said. "Guys were saying, ‘Can we buy you a goal?' It's a good time to get it, a great feeling."
Corey Toy retrieved his blocked shot and flung the puck on net from a sharp angle on the right side, and Reed was ready on the short-side doorstep to stuff the rebound past goaltender Nick Eno.
"I'm yelling ‘Net!" while he's going to the puck," Reed said. "He turned, fired the puck right on net. The rebound came right out to me and I just put it in."
The Buckeyes streamed off the bench in excitement to mob Reed and a heavy pro-Buckeye contingent erupted among the 2,435 fans who braved eight inches of snow in Bowling Green to take in the contest.
Reed's heroics were necessary because of BG's late equalizer. Just 17 seconds after Ohio State's Ian Boots hit the post, Dan Sexton's shot from the left side deflected in front and got past OSU goaltender Dustin Carlson to knot the score at 3 with 1:09 to go.
All the score seemed to do was fire up the Scarlet and Gray.
"I thought the overtime, we took a little bit more of an aggressive approach, and it paid off for us," Markell said. "The guys are understanding what it takes to win at this level and beyond. That's what I like. I give them credit. They went after it, they took their chances and still played good defense, and that's what we need."
Not only did Ohio State come back from the late punch from BG, it also absorbed a few early haymakers from the Falcons, who took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Kai Kantola earned his 10th goal of the year 4:13 into the game when he got by Sims and backhanded a shot past Carlson from the left wing.
Zac Dalpe answered for Ohio State with his team-leading 12th when he scored through a screen seconds after John Albert won a faceoff, one of three assists for Albert on the night. The Falcons retook the lead at 15:04 with a shorthanded goal by Kevin Schmidt, who put his own rebound into the net while the Buckeyes were still trying to get arranged on the power play thanks to Toy coming out of the box after his own penalty had expired.
The Ohio State power play – and Shane Sims, who extended his point streak to eight games – came to the rescue in the second with two goals. On the first, Sims shot wide of the cage, but the rebound banked off the BGSU Ice Arena's lively boards right to Sergio Somma for the sophomore to send into a yawning net at 5:52.
Sims then gave the Buckeyes a 3-2 lead at 8:36 when his slap shot from the high slot hit Eno but still trickled an inch or two past the goal line with OSU holding a 5-on-3 advantage.
"I'm just trying to do the simple things – get the puck to the net, make simple passes," Sims said. "Things are going my way right now."
Carlson ended with 22 saves while Eno had 21 during his first start of the year after missing the first half because of injury. The Buckeyes killed all eight of BG's power-play chances.
The Buckeyes retake the road next weekend with Friday and Saturday games at Ferris State.